A while back, I saw an advertisement that intrigued me. It was for a session at one of those float spas where you spend time in a pod filled with water infused with a high concentration of Epsom salts. Because of that, you literally float on top of the water, similar to what happens in the Dead Sea.
I went to the location’s website to find out more about this recent trend and read a number of reviews that commented on how calming it was to just be still and float. A number of people even commented on how clear and calm their minds seemed to be while they were floating.
I thought of that ad again yesterday when I was at my eye doctor appointment. After checking in, I made my way to the waiting area. During the five minutes I was sitting there, I switched from watching TV, to checking my phone, to gazing at the magazines.
When I was placed in a room to wait for the doctor, I saw a sign on the wall that read, “Out of courtesy, please put your phone away while in this room.” I happily obliged, but then started to realize something after about 30 seconds. I was bored. I started to look around the room but found nothing entertaining enough for me. What was I supposed to do? Stare at the walls?
Suddenly, I started bouncing my leg on the ground—a habit I have when I’m restless or anxious. I was surprised by how difficult it was for me to be still. The more I thought about it, the more fidgety I got. Was I really getting this anxious because I had been forced to sit without anything to do for a few minutes?
Luckily, the doctor came in at that time, so I was saved from stillness.
Later that day, I thought about what had happened in that room and realized that my reaction wasn’t something new. I thought about how in church or when I’m in prayer, I’m constantly shifting positions, looking around, or fiddling with something like my watch or rings. But why?
Maybe it’s the result of parenting, I tried to rationalize. After all, there was that time I tried meditation and after I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes, my youngest daughter, Kacey, ran in and jumped on top of me. Yeah, that would be reason enough not to be still.
Or maybe it’s just a side effect of maintaining and coordinating the schedules of two parents and four kids. It seems one of us is always on the move for one reason or another.
Or maybe—most probably, in fact—it’s because I’m a product of my environment. How many times do I check my phone, even though I just checked it a few seconds ago? How many times have I turned on the TV not to watch it, but just for the sake of having noise in the background while I’m doing something else?
Do any of us really know how to be still anymore? If you look around, you would probably say not a lot of us do. Perhaps we could give it a try, though. We have tools in our faith, such as the rosary and prayers, that can help us at least slow down a bit or perhaps even sit still. In addition to that, I may look into that whole floating thing. I just have to remember not to take Kacey along.